Decade-long increase in hunting licences for grizzlies & black bears

A black bear stands on his hind legs and leans up against a tree

The Georgia Straight

Statistics reveal decade-long increase in B.C. hunting licences for grizzlies and black bears

by Travis Lupick on March 25th, 2015

British Columbia’s spring grizzly and black-bear hunts open on April 1. This season, more hunters are expected to take to the province’s forests than in any year in recent memory.

In 2013-14, the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations issued 1,699 resident hunting licences for grizzly bears, according to data posted online in response to a freedom-of-information request. That’s up 58 percent since 2005-06 (the timeframe for which data was made available).

The province has, similarly, issued more licences to black-bear hunters. There were 21,836 allotted in 2013-14, up 52 percent from eight years earlier.

For comparison’s sake, the total number of “resident species licences” increased only 30 percent over this period. (A spokesperson said the ministry could not immediately supply statistics for how many of those licences resulted in a kill.)

Chris Darimont, a science director with Raincoast Conservation Foundation and assistant professor at the University of Victoria, told the Straight an overall rise isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “What does cause me alarm,” he continued, “is the increases in carnivore kills.”

Darimont explained there are naturally fewer carnivores compared to plant eaters. Larger predators also take more time to reproduce, and can be more easily affected by habitat destruction. In addition, he noted we often don’t know the true population of a particular animal or the mortality rate a species can tolerate before experiencing unsustainable population declines.

“That grizzly-bear hunt, in most places in the province, is done in the absence of fieldwork that examines if there really are the number of grizzly bears that [government] models say there are,” he explained. Darimont called attention to a November 2013 peer-reviewed study he co-authored that found the number of B.C. grizzlies killed by hunters has repeatedly exceeded the number targeted by the province…

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